Washington, D.C. (05/02/2022) – The Washington Spirit kicked off its 2022 regular season in front of over 10,000 fans with a 2-1 victory over OL Reign. Both Ashleys scored to keep the Spirit undefeated in matches it has taken the field for dating back to early August 2021, almost nine months ago.
Sunday’s match started with a scare from the Reign as Rose Lavelle lined up for a penalty kick in the ninth minute after a foul committed by Camryn Biegalski in the box. Lavelle’s shot to the lower left-hand corner was saved by a diving Aubrey Kingsbury to keep the score knotted at zero.
Washington flipped the script just five minutes later when Anna Heilferty left a drop pass at the top of the box for a crossing Ashley Sanchez who put a shot past Reign goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce for the early lead. Sanchez notably scored the game-winning goal against the Reign during last season’s playoff match in Tacoma.
— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) May 1, 2022
The Reign looked to put together a few good scoring chances over the next eight minutes of action but the Spirit defense continued to come up big. A couple defensive stops by Morgan Goff, who was making her first career start, and a free kick tipped over the net by Aubrey Kingsbury in the 23rd minute protected the Washington lead. Anna Heilferty kept up where she left off in the attacking third with another great pass, this time a centering ball to Trinity Rodman that set Sanchez up with another great attempt from the top of the box.
In the 32nd and 33rd minutes, respectively, both Rodman and Sanchez put great shots on goal and forced Tullis-Joyce to make some plays. On a corner kick in the 41st minute, Sam Staab got her leg up for an acrobatic one-timer that nearly fell into the net before Tullis-Joyce was able to tip it high. Just before the end of the opening half of action, Rodman showed off her acceleration, beating her defender to a through ball from Julia Roddar and putting a shot on net that had to be tipped out of play for a corner kick.
OL Reign came out of the locker room firing for the second half. Jess Fishlock combined with the Reign’s defending leading scorer Bethany Balcer for several close chances in the first seven minutes of second half action before Rose Lavelle was finally able to capitalize. In the 53rd minute, Lavelle found herself in the right place at the right time as she punched a rebound off the gloves of Kingsbury into the back of the net to tie the game up.
The Washington attack looked close to retaking the lead several times in the following minutes when Golden Boot-winner Ashley Hatch nearly connected on set-ups from Rodman and Heilferty and Ashley Sanchez almost put away a feed from Bayley Feist. In the 66th minute, Rodman showed off her wheels as she raced down the sideline before placing a perfect centering ball off the head of Hatch who bounced the ball over the outstretched arms of the Reign goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
The final 25 minutes of the match were characterized by seven substitutions and four yellow cards but no scoring chances like the game had in store in the first two-thirds. Washington held on to win its eighth consecutive non-Challenge Cup match and have a chance to get an early May sweep of the Reign.
The Spirit will take on OL Reign again on Wednesday, May 4 at 8:00 p.m. ET at Audi Field. With a win, the side would head to either Kansas City or Cary to play in the Challenge Cup final. A loss puts Washington in Bridgeview, Illinois this weekend taking on the Red Stars in a regular season match.
-NWSL Match Report-
Match: Washington Spirit vs. OL Reign
Date: May 1, 2022
Venue: Audi Field
Kickoff: 5:00 p.m. ET
Weather: cloudy, high-50s
WAS – Ashley Sanchez – 14’
OLR – Rose Lavelle – 53’
WAS – Ashley Hatch – 66’
WAS: 1- Kingsbury; 30- Camryn Biegalski; 22- Amber Brooks (Emily Sonnett 59’); 3- Sam Staab; 14- Morgan Goff (Kelley O’Hara 72’); 7- Taylor Aylmer; 16- Julia Roddar (Dorian Bailey 59’); 21- Anna Heilferty (Bayley Feist 59’); 10- Ashley Sanchez; 2- Trinity Rodman; 33- Ashley Hatch (Audrey Harding 86’)
Unused Substitutes: 17- Tinaya Alexander; 28- Nicole Barnhart; 18- Devon Kerr; 4- Karina Rodriguez
OLR: 91- Phallon Tullis-Joyce; 14- Jimena López; 21- Phoebe McClernon; 4- Alana Cook; 11- Sofia Huerta; 10- Jess Fishlock (Quinn 70’); 2- Nikki Stanton (Marley Canales 87’); 24- Veronica Latsko (Tziarra King 77’); 16- Rose Lavelle; 7- Ally Watt (Olivia Athens 70’); 8- Bethany Balcer (Angelina 77’)
Unused Substitutes: 3- Lauren Barnes; 17- Sam Hiatt; 18- Laurel Ivory; 19- Sinclaire Miramontez
Stats Summary: WAS / OLR
Shots: 18 / 10
Shots On Goal: 12 / 3
Saves: 2 / 10
Shots Blocked: 2 / 4
Fouls: 8 / 6
Offside: 1 / 2
OLR – Nikki Stanton – 72’ – Yellow Card
OLR – Alana Cook – 74’ – Yellow Card
OLR – Jimena López – 86’ – Yellow Card
WAS – Aubrey Kingsbury – 90’+2’ – Yellow Card